“The Scarlet Ibis” is a short story written by James Hurst. The story is about a brother, also the narrator of the story, who tries to train his younger brother Doodle be able to lI’ve as same as a normal person. Regardless of his birth defects. Finally, driven by narrator’s pride, he gets angry when he finds that Doodle could not finish the training before the school starts, so he madly leaves Doodle behind in one storm day, and he finds Doodle died lying on the ground when he returns.
“The Scarlet Ibis” is a story which shows well-organized plots, contents and characters. For example, the story consists of some conflicts. First of all, there is an external conflict between the brother and Doodle. The brother is a healthy young boy. When he was six years’ old, Doodle was born and he could greatly feel the differences between him and Doodle while Doodle “seemed all head, with a tiny body which was red and shriveled like an old man’s”. When Doodle grows up, the brother is embarrassed of his feeble and weak brother, so he begins to train Doodle and pushes him so hard. The aggressiveness of the brother and the weakness of Doodle create an external conflict, which finally leads to the death of Doodle. Also, in the story, the brother has a dynamic character which could be learned from his behaviors, like he threatens Doodle that “I’ll leave you here by yourself” (direct characterization). While Doodle has a static character which could be learned from his reaction to his brother, like he always believes in his brother and only asks his brother not to leave him when he is urged to do something he could not do (indirect characterization). The dynamic character of the brother makes him aggressive, so he fails to be aware of the danger of Doodle. Doodle’s static character makes him subject to his brother, so he could not save his own life by rejecting his brother’s order. Secondly, internal conflict, also known as the major conflict, exists in the story. The reason why the brother pushes Doodle so hard is because of his pride—he does not want a feeble younger brother who cannot even walk. When he finds that he can train Doodle to walk, he greatly feels the sense of pride, and such inner pride drives him to train Doodle harder. The pride of the brother is a way for him to express his love to Doodle. However, the pride is also dangerous. Just as the brother reveals in the story, “I did not know then that pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two vines, life and death”. Thus, the external and internal conflict are entwined, which finally leads to the tragic ending of Doodle. Moreover, in the story, the brother has a complex personality—he loves Doodle and wants to make him stronger, but he also values his pride, so he finally ignores the safety of Doodle.
Many literary devices are applied in “The Scarlet Ibis”. For example, symbolism is an important literary device of the story. The Scarlet Ibis symbolizes the little Doodle, which is beautiful, but its “wings were uncoordinated” and finally died and tumbled down, bumping through the tree. The Ibis is in comparison to Doodle’s defects and implies his doomed destiny. Finally Doodle died like the red Ibis, fell backwards onto the earth, bleeding from the mouth. The scarlet Ibis might be died of a storm, so the storm symbolizes the brother who urges Doodle to do things out of his capabilities. Just as Daddy implies in the story, “a storm must have brought it here” after many miles the Ibis had traveled to die like this, the brother’s train and pride brings Doodle to that situation and finally died like the scarlet Ibis.
In the end, “The Scarlet Ibis” is a great literary work which includes different kinds of conflicts and vividly portrays two different characters—the brother and Doodle. The tragedy caused by the internal and external conflicts of the two characters, especially the pride of the brother. The symbolism of the scarlet ibis also implies the doomed destiny of Doodle.